Should the Redskins change their name?

Hundreds of American Indians and their supporters gather outside the Metrodome to protest the Washington Redskins’ name, prior to an NFL football game between the Redskins and the Minnesota Vikings, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

In anticipation of Thursday’s Vikings game, a classmate of 7-year-old Roman Vizenor at Hale School in Minneapolis drew the Washington Redskins’ logo during class. Roman, whose mother, Lynette, is enrolled in the Oneida Nation, explained to the student why he opposed the word “redskin” as a Native American: “The name ‘Redskins’ hurts,” writes MPR News reporter Jon Collins.

Roman and his mother put that on their sign at a protest on Thursday evening outside the game between the Washington Redskins and the Minnesota Vikings. Organizers estimated that about 500 people marched from the Native American Community Development Institute on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis to the Metrodome, where they rallied as thousands of Vikings fans streamed into the stadium.

Sasha Houston Brown’s first protest against the Redskins’ name was in 1992. She said she still has the shirt that says “Racism is not a sport.” She said the slow pace of change is largely due to the fact that many sports fans can’t put a face to the issue.

“It’s really easy when it’s just a picture on your jersey, but it’s another thing when you look straight into the eyes of a native kids and say that you’re a sports fan and, ‘It’s OK, it’s Redskins,'” Brown said.

“The word ‘redskin’ has had negative racial connotations since the 19th century and is known to many Native Americans as The R-Word.” (The Atlantic)

“We will never change the name of the team,” team owner Dan Snyder told USA Today. “As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season.”

Today’s Question: Should the Redskins change their name?

  • JQP

    Yes and get an unlisted number too.

  • JQP

    Redskins …. using all the same letters
    Dresskin
    Skinders
    DernKiss
    Sinkerds
    Skinerds – bonus!! Mascot = Lynerd , team song = Free Bird

    • kevins

      rock on

  • Sharon Dixon

    I think it is time for everyone to quit getting all bent out of shape over words. Politically correctness has gotten ridiculous. Every time I think of political correctness, I think of Larry the Cable Guy reading the “Night Before Christmas” and doing it politically correct. People need to concentrate on the things that really matter: economy, education, jobs, etc. and quit the tantrum throwing over the little things. Check back into the history of the name, Were there any blessings done by the Native Americans, like in ND for the Fighting Souix? Some may be upset with the name, but how many are proud that the team has their name.

  • Scott44

    No, I am of Scandinavian decent. So are a mess of other
    folks in this country. Maybe we should push for the Minnesota Vikings to change
    their name. It is just a name, to me no different than Joe, Jane, Scott or
    Mike.

    • Dan

      No, it isn’t.

  • Sue de Nim

    Yes. And we should think again about our team name, the Vikings. As a person of partial Norse descent, I object to being associated with that sordid history. Vikings were predatory gangsters. Can you imagine people of German descent feeling “honored” by having a team named the Nazis?

    • fritz

      Personally, I’m offended by your characterization of the REAL Vikings as being “predatory gangsters”. No doubt there were people who thought that, but it was a much more complex society than that. Their contributions were huge, and diverse. Actually (and probably unfortunately) there are people of German descent who proudly call themselves “Nazis”. The message is, I guess, that it’s a complex world.

      As far as the football team goes, if it’s “nothing but a name:” and the group associated with the name’s origin finds it offensive, it’s offensive, change it,. If you call me a name I find offensive, I’ll object. When I object, if you’re a decent person, you’ll quit using the name. If you won’t, you might be a bully, huh? Change the name already.

      • Sue de Nim

        That’s revisionist history. There’s a reason the rest of Europe was terrified of vikings, and why the viking age ended when Scandinavia was Christianized. They were not noble savages. Is it not the vikings’ reputation of being fierce and brutal warriors that made “Vikings” an appealing name for an NFL team?

  • Pearly

    Yes!
    If you like your name you get to keep it. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you. I propose the D.C Redskins!

    • kevins

      Keys on the compy stuck Pearly? Good luck tomorrow…how ’bout the Washington Deerskins?

      • Pearly

        :)

  • kevins

    I think, given the context, it is time to change the name. There are plenty of suitable alternatives, and in the big scheme of things, it is after all, only a football team.

  • Yanotha Twangai

    Yes. How about the “Washington Monuments”?

    • monica

      Or the Washington Windbags

      • Tim Hellendrung

        Washington Department of Football Services

  • Kim S.

    Yes. Since it’s equivalent to the N word, a thousand times yes.

  • PaulJ

    Someone should name themselves after current warriors – the Raptors, the Corporals, the Big Red One or the Red Bulls. Or just change it to “the natives” and they could still use the same logos.

  • KTN

    Since the original owner was an avowed racist, yes, the team name should be changed. The name honors nobody, is insulting to many, and has little place in a society that pretends to believe in diversity and inclusion.

  • shyestviolet

    Yes. Of course. What century do we live in?

  • Jim G

    Yes, our high school team changed its name 15 years ago. It’s time for the NFL to recognize the world is different in the 21st century. And deerhunters, be safe out there over the gun season opener. See the whole deer and what’s behind it before you shoot. No sound shooting, please. Good hunting.

  • PRD

    No. This is a petty and childish debate that serves no purpose. Drop it. There are real life issues that need our attention like food, housing, health care, etc. etc.

    • jillybee72

      I wonder if part of the reason food, housing and heath care are so hard for many Native Americans to obtain is because they’re considered second-class citizens who don’t have to be treated with respect, as exemplified by a massive national organization. Yes, let’s end the debate by the Redskins changing their racist name.

      • Boob

        Yeah, that’ll change those other issues dramatically. ( . Y . )

        • jillybee72

          I’m not looking for dramatic change, I am looking for steps in the right direction. == )

        • Peggy Flanagan

          When you’re able to portray people as less than human, which the Redsk*n mascot does, then you have the ability justify the lack of economic stability for an entire cultural group. It’s part of the problem.

    • Dan

      Translation: I’m white and this doesn’t affect me, so let’s ignore it. Did I get that right?

      • mason

        The ironic racism in your comment would be funny if racism wasn’t serious.

        • Dan

          Right. That’s totally what’s happening there. ::eye roll::

    • Howard

      I think you are right and we should have a team called the darkies, or black skins, or norwegians, oh I mean Vikings. We are all differentiating what we see, and its normal. Let it go.

  • Elijah the Tishbite

    I’d like to see a Footbaal team fess up to the truth and call themselves the Idolaters.

  • Nick Hannula

    It seems to me there are some solid alternative names that wont cause heated debate. How about calling them the “Washington Warriors” (keeping with the Native American theme but without the offensiveness), or the “Washington Hogs” (a reference to Washington’s famed offensive line from the 80’s)?

    • Boob

      Hogs? What are you, some kind of Islamophobe?

  • Tim Hellendrung

    Yes. I believe it is time to change the name. Many people claim that if this is an issue that the Vikings name should be chagned due to their Scandinavian heritage. If “Viking” were a racial slur for people of Scandinavian descent, I would change the name in a heartbeat. “Redsk*n” is a slur for our native brothers and sisters. There’s no way around it. Change the name.

  • Gayle

    I am trying to understand why any business owner would cling to a brand name that so many find so offensive. Offensive enough to draw protesters. Offensive enough that it is news. Offensive enough that it is hitting the bottom line (after all, it is business). The only reasons I can think of are the owner’s False Pride and Phoney Ego, and that he feels that he is being forced by “outsiders” (the “They can’t tell me what to do!” mind-set). We all know of someone, or have found ourselves in the position at one time, of knowing we were wrong about something – but the more convincing the arguments were to change, the more stubborn the resistance to change. Now he is in a corner and too intrenched to publicly admit he is wrong, no matter the cost.
    Perhaps he needs some time with Dr. Phil or Ms. Manners.

    • Sue de Nim

      Even more disturbing is the thought that Snyder might actually consider keeping the name to be a good business decision. In that case, he’s making a bet that DC area football fans like the name and are not bothered by the racism of it. Sadly, he might be right.

    • Yanotha Twangai

      Maybe he regards the scandal as free publicity.

      • Gayle

        You and Sue may be right. How tragic that someone can turn their racism into a profit. Shame on Mr Snyder and his supporters.

  • david

    Yes. It’s only a football team. Washington fans act like changing their name is some big atrocity equal to ethnic cleansing, genocide, biological warfare, and having their land and homes taken from them. Its only a corporate logo, and a sports team.

    • Elijah the Tishbite

      Footbaal devotees object to changing the name because they consider that suggestion akin to blasphemy, and they see their use of it as an exercise of their freedom of religion.

  • Anthony Acosta

    Yes. It’s that simple. We must recognize and prioritize respect of the native people(s) that are offended by this. SPORTS shouldn’t matter THAT much to us. Respecting other people and their heritage can only help us move society closer towards true equality.

  • chigger

    Yes, of course.

  • MrE85

    Yep.

  • Mary

    yes

  • Gary F

    Yes, I find the name Washington offensive seeing what has been going on the last few years in our capitol.

  • kennedy

    Football fan who thinks the name should change. The term is racially derogatory.

    I don’t agree with removing the Sioux, Seminoles, Illini, Aztec, Cherokee, or other native names. They name the people who were here before Columbus.

    The caricature used by the Cleveland baseball team is not particularly flattering.

  • Nick Settich

    Our nation murdered an estimated 20-100 million native Americans while the United States expanded into this country over 100 year span. Genocide should give us enough of a conscience to re-examine our viewpoint. Theses insulting things we don’t find offensive need to be looked at again. Here is a link to Oscar Arredondo’s “Welcome To Cleveland” exhibit.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotoflow/4317279054/

  • Dave Snyder

    Yes. Yes they should.

  • Amy

    Yes. Language and images are important. Some language and some images have a specific power in our culture because of their history regardless of the immediate intentions of the people using them. There are many very real, and very important issues like hunger and health and housing to which others have referred in their comments. I think we underestimate ourselves if we think the issue of language and image is such a distraction that we are incapable of also working on those issues at the same time as issues of language and image or of seeing them as linked. History matters. This history of genocide and oppression matters. Contemporary experience matters. The continued appropriation of “Native American” matters.

    As a Jewish woman I can imagine images of Jewish people that might celebrate Jewish people. But I wouldn’t believe it was a celebration of my identity if someone were wearing a caricature of an inmate in a concentration camp or even a Holocaust survivor and calling themselves the ‘resistors.’ I would especially not believe it if it happened in Poland or Germany.

    I think this issue is one of racist language, and I also think this issue represents the deligitimization of many other issues and experiences of Native Americans in a country that most of the time would like to Disney-fy history.

  • Jeff.

    Unquestionably. It remains the only racial slur a person can use in the work place and not get fired. It is unconscionable that a professional sports team not only endorses but also consistently defends the use of a racial epithet as it’s sports team mascot/logo. Native people have been asking for the elimination of such imagery/logos for over 50 years. Change the name.

  • jay

    sticks and stones people. If you want to change the “word” of the team, buy it and do so.

  • Jay

    PRD IS RIGHT, lets worry about something that matters like poverty, people losing the family home due to taxes, deadly disease, drug abuse, stop taxing retired people, smaller government, preservation of our lives. Those matter not a stupid word like Redskins. My god, wake up.

  • Becoming

    Absolutely! We need a society that shows and creates respect for all people. Using the word, Redskins, does not. Change it and quit dragging this disrespect on and on.

  • Chris Mantz

    How is it that it has taken 80 years for people to gripe about this? Those of you who believe it should change I believe you are racist. Just Saying you’re always looking at things as racist. And the indian protestors after the game against the vikings was so stupid. How many can say they are 100 percent Indians.? Doubt any of them. How is it no one goes around using it as a racist term yet all of the sudden it “hurts” people? Sticks and stones? At least it’s just a word not like we are throwing stones around with a redskin on them because that would truly hurt you people against the REDSKINS name. That time you wasted protesting a name you could have made a difference in this world and have helped a child or person in need.

  • MikeJanarch

    Seems unlikely that changing the name will actually improve the life of anyone–materially or symbolically.